RISING inputs, especially feed costs, has meant that the poultry industry is in dire need of a price rise to save the industry from huge losses, according to BFREPA, the egg producers umbrella body.

It is arguing that egg producers are being left to pay the bill for the industry’s spiralling costs of feed, energy, transport, and labour. These have been creeping up over the past 12 months and have rapidly increase in the past few weeks – without any rise in the end product to help pay for them.

"Producers have watched on as other livestock sectors have received price rises to reflect the current situation and the time has come for egg producers to receive the same support," said Robert Gooch, CEO of BFREPA.

“Free range egg producers are always at the bottom of the pile. Everyone in the supply chain secures their margin by passing the rising costs down the chain, so they inevitably get left at the farmer’s door. BFREPA has campaigned for fair, robust contracts to be available which allow for movement in the price paid to farmers as input costs, such as feed, increase and decrease.

“These contracts have been adopted by some retailers and packers but there are numerous examples of these contracts being broken now that inflationary pressures are rising. This simply isn’t fair and can’t be allowed to continue," stated Mr Gooch.

Eggs remain a key battleground between supermarkets, along with other staples such as bread and milk, and prices are often driven down in the fight for market share. The price of eggs, in fact, has actually declined over the years – in July, 2014, 12 free range eggs cost £3.09, in September, 2021, shoppers paid an average of £2.14, according to the Office for National Statistics.

"What is worse, only 91p (as of November 1, 2021) of that goes to the farmer the remaining profits falls in the hands of packers and supermarkets," said Mr Gooch. “Retailers and packers need to step up and make the adjustments necessary to reflect the financial pressures free range egg producers are experiencing.

“Only the producers at the bottom of the chain are losing out, while everyone else finds ways to pass their costs along. This isn’t sustainable and action must be taken now before more producers leave the sector.”

Helping with that support is a current online petition asking supermarkets to stop importing eggs for use in British products, which has become one of the most successful petitions ever held by change.org.

The petition, which now has more than 35,000 supporters, was launched by British Lion Egg Processors and has received significant support from the public; MPs including Neil Parish, Jim Shannon and Rosie Cooper, as well as celebrity influencers including Myleene Klass and The Georgia Edit.

Andrew Joret, British Egg Industry council chairman, added: “To have more than 35,000 people calling on retailers to use British eggs for food made in Britain is a momentous achievement, and will make a huge difference in encouraging more retailers to ‘buy British’.

"It shows just how strongly people feel about their right to choose food made with eggs that meet the highest food safety standards and support British farmers. Consumers deserve to be told clearly where the eggs in their food come from, whether it’s an egg sandwich, quiche, or a Scotch egg."

In recent years, there have been a number of food safety issues associated with egg products produced in Europe and further afield. Using imported eggs also adds unnecessary food miles and does not guarantee the high standards set out in the Code of Practice for the Production of Lion Quality Egg Products, he pointed out.

"We have already had positive feedback from some retailers and this milestone will help remind them, and others, how important this issue is to British consumers. Our mission now is to continue raising awareness and encouraging others to support the movement," concluded Mr Joret.

Read more: All change in egg laying and broiler sectors